February 04, 2003

Is Europe Living in a

Is Europe Living in a Pre-9/11 Utopia?

We often hear from the grizzled European eminence grise types that Europe has been living with terrorism for decades and has a more sophisticated approach to the problem. Stem the bellicose rhetoric, get to the root causes, dialogue with some of these movements, and so on--we are told. Yet the odd ETA car bomb or IRA attack on a London hotel--however horrific--simply does not compare with the massive scale of the felling of the Twin Towers. Americans are now consumed with fear of a so-called "dirty bomb" or bio-attack in a major metropolis. It appears that Europeans do not yet share these fears. Instead, the more prevalent thinking goes, the U.S., protected by two large oceans on each coast and not buffeted by significant conflict on its own continental soil since the Civil War, appears to be in the grips of hysteria (or an era of historical "madness," as John Le Carre described it, in an oped piece in the Times of London) about the future specter of terrorist activity. Why all this wild talk of preemption, many Europeans query?

An interesting, if gruesome, question: What would Euro publics and elites thinking be on this matter if aerosolized anthrax killed many scores at Canary Wharf? Or a landmark like the Eiffel Tower simply disappeared from the Parisian skyline after a successful terror strike with fatalities in the hundreds? Would an epoch-changing mood sweep the Continent? Or would the wizened skepticism and poo-pooing of Yankee overdrive on the war on terror persist?

Posted by Gregory at February 4, 2003 04:42 PM
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